How do you feel about standing naked before another person? Little kids don’t seem to have a problem with it. In fact, I can remember when my kids were little, in the summertime in particular, I had trouble getting them to keep their clothes on. But, most of us, as we get older, aren’t really into being naked in front of each other. Yeah, there are nudists, and there are exhibitionists, and strippers, but those people are considered somewhat on the fringe of society. It’s not normal to parade around naked. That’s why, when we go to church on Sundays and sit in the pews, we’re wearing clothing. (Can you even get your head around a nudist church? You might think such a concept would really pack the pews, but, in truth, I suspect it would be very difficult to get people to attend such a church. As observers, perhaps, but not as participants!)
Most of us reserve our nakedness for a select few people in our lives. They would be the people we can trust to love and accept us even though we might not look like the airbrushed centerfolds of a Playboy magazine.
In the story of Creation, Adam and Eve experienced an intimate relationship with God. They stood before God naked and didn’t think a thing of it. But then, when they made the decision to separate themselves from God, immediately, what was the first thing they did? They made some clothes so they could hide their nakedness.
To return to the people God created us to be, people who are in an intimate relationship with God, it’s important to stand naked before God. That is, to be who really are: without pretenses, without fear, without shame. And the only way we can do that is by trusting that God loves us with all our imperfections.
Psalm 32 is the perfect way to begin the Lenten season because it’s about a journey from fear to trust. It tells the story of one who had separated himself from God. He was afraid and hid himself from God. He stubbornly held his feelings in and shut himself off until it felt like there was going to be nothing left of him and he couldn’t stand it anymore.
Then, he finally broke down and came to God in honesty. He quit pretending to be someone he wasn’t. He confessed to God who he really was -- someone who had made a royal mess of his life and someone who desperately needed God.
The Psalmist opened himself up to be in an honest relationship with God. And that’s all it took. Because God was there all along. It was only his stubborn refusal to come to God that had caused the separation. God wasn’t looking for reasons to punish him. God was waiting patiently for him to open himself up to receive forgiveness. That’s who God is. Knowing that makes it a lot easier to stand naked before God.
Nudist churches? Probably not a very good idea. But it definitely would be a good thing for more of God’s people to be seen naked.